Yummy beetroot & pearl barley salad

Pearl barley and beetroot salad Gregor is responsible for most of the creative activity in the sunshine house kitchen. But occasionally, I take over. Like last night.

I made this really yummy salad. It was so yummy, I thought I would share it with you.


5 medium beetroot, peeled and cubed
1 brown onion, chopped
Leaves of beetroot
1 bunch of kale
1 cup of pearl barley
1 cube of veggie stock
1 cup of raw cashews
balsamic vinegar
marinated feta


Toss cubed beetroot and chopped onion in baking dish with cashews, salt, balsamic vinegar and oil. Cook on 170 degrees Celcius for 35 min or until caramelised.

Meanwhile, cover barley in two cups of cold water. Add cube of stock and cook on low burner for about 20-30 min or until soft.

Steam kale and beetroot leaves.

Toss ingredients together in a salad bowl with marinated feta.


Have you eaten anything delicious lately?

Raw beauty ~ spending less on beauty products

Spending less on beauty - raw beauty

At 17, I was swiping my face with Clearasil face cleansers, imagining my spotty oily ugliness being wiped away. I would then tone, and my face rung with the current of cleanliness and purification. Once the pores were tight, I would smooth in a moisturiser, bringing back my skin’s softness.

And yet that pimple remained.

I asked a friend one morning what her secret was. Her skin was pimple-free, fresh and peaceful.

“Water,” she said. Just plain old water. Apparently, she’d splash it on in the morning and that was that.

I tried it. The pimple went away.

A week later, still pimple free. Wow. I never looked back.

My beauty routines have only become more sparse as I edge over the cliff of 30. I have two hair cuts a year (and maybe squeeze in a couple of fringe trims so I am not looking through a curtain).

I wax my legs myself using Nads body wax strips. I do this watching the girls in the bath, and it takes me approximately 10 minutes a time. I have also started waxing my arms. After years of waxing, it no longer hurts.

Occasionally I tweeze out those little raggedy hairs that insist on joining my eyebrows.

Each morning, I wash my body (or parts of) with Castile soap, and use a natural deodorant.

In the evening, I splash a bit of water on my face. That’s it.

The longest part of my beauty routine used to be washing my hair every morning. I loved the massage, and the hot water running down my back. But I gave up using shampoo and conditioner last August on a friend’s advice. Told you – just getting more sparse.

Even brushing my long hair takes less time now, as it’s no longer knotty from being washed.

Reading this, you might think I am a bit unpresentable. Scruffy – perhaps a bit smelly. But I beg to differ. My skin glows, as much as skin without foundation can. My legs aren’t perfectly waxed. My eyebrows aren’t perfectly shaped. My hair has a natural-ish, oily sheen. But I am clean, and presentable.

The thing with being 17 and obsessed with skin care products was that I was trying to purge everything about myself. Get me out of me, please, and take that disgusting pimple with you.

In my fourth decade, I am wiser, less pimply and spend way less time, money and energy on beauty. Simple. Raw.

What’s your beauty regime consist of?

For more tales from the sunshine house, visit me over at Facebook. You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter, where I occasionally run giveaways for subscribers, and update you with the latest sunshine news.

(By the way, this is not a sponsored post – just giving a shout-out to the handful of products I actually use and believe in.)

Sunshine Sunday ~ Rituals

Sunshine Sunday Ritual Breakfast

It’s 6:30…maybe 7. Sun is wrestling through the blinds, but the giveaway is the lorikeet outside the window – Rosie’s cue to wake.

She starts do-do-loo-do-ooodling. I gently lift her out of the bed, so she doesn’t wake her big sister. Do NOT wake the big sister, who needs sleep like a comatose teenager/dragon. Waking the dragon before she’s ready does not bode well.

Rosie and I spend an hour or so reading baby books, or doing a puzzle. Sometimes I’ll go for a short run with her in the pram. “Rum!” she calls out excitedly, as I get out my fluoro pink running top.

At last, the dragon stirs, and with a Pip and a Pop, she’s leaping around the living room less like a dragon, more like Joy Unbuttoned. The coffee machine goes on with a brurrr – a sound I hope will wake the other slumbersome dragon from his den.

I put on the eggs to boil, the toast in the toaster, and grind the coffee. While the eggs boil, I set the table – cacciatore salami, chorizo, smoked salmon, triple cream brie, tomatoes, sauerkraut, chutney, plates, egg cups etc. The art of preparation has been finely tuned so that all systems are in synchrony. The second coffee should be being made just as eggs are reaching their perfect point of boil, and the toast has popped.

The second coffee on the table is the cue for people to come sit.

Breakfast in the sunshine house. No matter what’s going on, it’s a ritual I insist on. The other day, I ate a peanut butter sandwich and swigged cold tea while finishing off a contract before 9am, instead of sitting up for sunshine breakfast. It was a poor substitute.

Our breakfast ritual stems from Gregor’s heritage. His family have lengthy decadent continental breakfasts every morning – and breakfast will usually be the only meal until dinnertime. It took me a while to move away from my cholesterol-free porridge, or healthy muesli with tea start to the day. Now, anything less than our usual spread seems like cheating. Breakfast, or Break Fast With Feast, is a languid hour, easing me properly into the day. Not sure how we will go when Elfie has to go to school.

When I was at uni, I wrote a ten-minute play about rituals called The Perfect Point of Boil. It was about an older couple whose existence had basically been pared down to the rituals of how they made their tea.

Most families will have a ritual, or series of rituals, that define the pattern of their day.

What are yours?

Share your stories about rituals for Sunshine Sundays here. Drop in to visit the other linkees. Sadly, Kate, who has been joining us here each week with the most stunning posts, will be taking a little break while she does that thing called Life. We will miss you Kate! For everyone else, next week’s prompt is “Earth”.

PS…Did you do Earth Hour? We nearly forgot! 

Sunshine Sundays

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Living Well ~ Bulk Buying Co-op

Bulk Food Food Buying Co-op

I discovered bulk buying when moving to North Coast NSW during my first pregnancy. The area has a number of bulk food outlets – Pacific Bulk Foods and Fundies Wholefood Market in Lismore, The Source Bulk Foods in Mullumbimby and Byron and Santos in Mullumbimby, Byron and online.

There are advantages to buying in bulk. Let me share ~

Less waste

Buying bulk, you buy what you need. As you are filling up paper bags in store, and transferring into glass jars at home, you use less packaging, so accumulate less plastic and other waste. Most of my glass jars are recycled, or sourced from op-shops.

More economical

You aren’t paying for fancy labels or pretty packaging, so you save money. It’s surprising how much cheaper quinoa is when you buy it bulk, rather than paying through the nose for a 250g packet from the supermarket. Same applies to everything else.

Less supermarket

I swear to you, I go to the supermarket once a month, max. I only go for things like nappies, and possibly baking paper or laundry powder, but most of that can also be sourced through bulk stores. Between farmer’s markets, the local fruit and veggie seller, the butcher and bulk, we truly don’t need the supermarket – and for that I am thankful. Getting sucked into that fluro money-sucker sucks more than my money.

Better health

Buying bulk encourages healthy eating.

Gregor and I have always cooked and eaten whole foods – a tin of organic coconut milk, regular cow’s milk, and organic butter is about as processed as we get. We don’t particularly have high ideals about our way of eating – it’s just the way we both grew up. Cooking from whole foods is easy, familiar and healthy.

We (by we, I mean Gregor) cook all our meals from scratch, which means less preservatives and other stuff we don’t need.

More variety

Buying bulk, I am faced with endless options – grain, such as amaranth, mixed quinoa, wholegrain cous cous; an extensive range of legumes; pine nuts, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, mixed raw nuts; every oil you can think of – so it’s enticing to try new things.

Bulk buying co-op

Last year, I joined two different bulk buying co-ops. A bulk buying co-op is an even more economical way of buying bulk, as you bandy together with a group of people, and buy bulk in large quantities at wholesale prices. It means I buy organic produce for the same, or less than the price I’d pay retail.

Buying through a co-op is also very convenient. I pick-up my order either in my village, or not far from, rather than trekking to Lismore or Byron Bay to do a shop.

The other main advantage is that buying as a co-op connects you with like-minded people in the community. You have common incentives – to save money and eat well. No-one is making a profit, and the work of ordering and divvying up the order is shared between friends. It is a testimony to community and social harmony that both the co-ops I am part of run so smoothly.

Setting up a bulk-buying co-op

Here’s how it works:

~ Find a group of people who share a common interest in buying bulk wholesale
~ Decide on a method of communication and ordering, e.g. email or Facebook
~ Decide on group rules
~ Nominate a group organiser; this might rotate per order
~ Research distributors. This list essentially came from Quirky Cooking; I’ve added to it slightly.

Green Caravan
Macadamia Fresh
Local businesses may also distribute wholesale, so ask around

~ Contact distributors to determine ordering quotas, shipping prices etc. You will usually need to meet specified quotas. Larger quantities are generally cheaper.
~ Arrange invoices and payment, a place of delivery, sorting the order, and collection

I am very lucky, as both groups I am part of are super organised, and run well. I think it comes down to having strong group leaders, clear rules and a shared interest in making it work for all of us.

For more on bulk food co-ops, visit Quirky Cooking.

Do you buy in bulk? Are you part of a co-op? What are your thoughts?

Would love you to join me over at my FACEBOOK community for more conversation.

10 Survival Tips for Toddler Meal Times

You may remember Danielle (Mrs H) from the fabulous lunchbox experiment she wrote  for me last year. You may also know Mrs H from the witty status updates on Facebook, or from one of her hilarious Holsby TV clips. Perhaps you have one of her ebooks – a survival guide for feeding small children.

I connected with Danielle early in my blogging journey, and have fallen in love with her wit, her down-to-earth nature, her food and her ability to say it as it is. She is one of the only bloggers I have met in person, and I can confirm she is who she says she is.

Her post on Keeping Up With The Holsbys about spending the night in a brothel blew me away. She wrote about marriage perfectly, and she gave a raw, honest account of being a victim of domestic abuse. This woman. 

What you may not already know is that Danielle has written, produced and is soon to launch her first ‘real’ book (with pages and stuff) called Cook Once, Feed All. From what I have seen, this is a must have cook book for any kid wrangler. As part of her lead up to the book launch on the 28th November, she is posting every day, either at her blog Keeping Up With The Holsbys, or guest posting on other blogs.

Here she is today with survival tips for toddler meal times. I so needed to read this.

It’s the end of the day, you’re tired, your edges are frayed and you will love your children just a little bit more once they’re asleep in bed.

You can see the light at the end of the tunnel but you have the final hurdle to go….

Arsenic Hour.

kids eating putta pasta (1 of 1)

I’ve long referred to the dinner/bath/bed routine as the Vortex and sometimes an hour can feel like a week.

Or a month.

Don’t get me wrong I love my kids, and generally speaking they’re pretty good feeders but dinner can be the camel that breaks the squaw’s back.

No wonder I love wine so much, right?

I’ve popped together a few survival tactics to help you make to bedtime without losing your cool, doing your block, and yelling until the neighbours close their windows (hypothetically speaking, not an actual eventuality).


We don’t have time to create meals that are fit for toddler Gods and not everything can be prettied up with grated carrot hair and cucumber eyes, however, I find that vibrant plates with options on it will often entice little minds and hands.


Ok, we’ve all done it and the truth is every now and then it’s totally fine, but the aim of the game is to teach our kids the great habit of sitting down together and chatting and sharing food.

How we eat is actually as important as what we eat.

Even if it’s not your dinner time, endeavor to sit with them and chat. I’m as guilty as the next person as trying to use this time to get the last few jobs done, but at the end of the day what’s more important??


Toddlers are super smooth operators and they’re totally not above a little bit of power play. If you both dig your heels in, and you come to loggerheads they’re often very aware of the game they’re playing and – get this – they love seeing how it messes with you.

Even if you’re about to lose it, you need to fake cool until you out play those little monkeys. 


Um, yeah. I know, right? If not bribery, then what??? Sometimes it’s the only arrow left in my quiver.

I’m going to tell you not to do it, but know that although the instant pay off is attractive in the long run it forms bad habits.

for zanni1-2


If your wee one is turning up their nose at the meal you spent an hour cooking and you simply offer them something else that they prefer, you may be creating a rod for your back that leaves you making multiple meals for years to come.

That sucks.

Obviously, sometimes they truly don’t like something, but my rule is you must eat 2 mouthfuls. If he gags, I don’t force it, and I may even offer something else, but he must try it. Usually it’s just the power play and once he tries it he’ll eat it.

I speak mostly of my toddler, D Man, as my one and a half year old will eat anything…. Except pumpkin.


I don’t allow any nibbles for an hour before dinner. If everyone if wigging out because they’re starving, I’ll bring dinner forward, but the second I succumb to a late snack I know it’s all over at the dinner table.

Conversely, I let them know that after they leave the table, that’s it. Unless they’ve eaten everything and they’re still complaining of hunger (how are those growth spurts??) I try not to let them keep snacking.

The idea is that you eat properly and mindfully at the table and then you’re done.


As children we have a very innate sense of our appetite. It’s not until we get older that we stuff ourselves to bursting with everything on the table. If your child has eaten a fair portion of what you served, and says they’re full, listen to them. If you force them to over ride their sense of satiation you may encourage over eating later in life.


Children can easily fill up on fluids and be turned off their meals. It is important to only offer water at mealtimes. As a general rule, I tend to only offer milk in the morning, after a nap and before bed, and the rest of the time is water. Once per day I may allow water with a little juice in it at a ratio of 70:30.


Our children learn best by observing us. If you are picky and fussy, chances are your child will be also. Don’t limit your child to only the food you enjoy (although no one in my house gets mushrooms, urgh!).

Lead by example by showing them that a healthy, balanced and varied diet is to be embraced.

10. WINE

The only explanation I’ll offer here is it’s for you, not them.

If mealtimes are truly a cause of anxiety, your child appears unwell or you are worried about your child’s growth seek a professional opinion.

I am launching my new book on the 28th November. The countdown is on!

Danielle Colley Cook Once, Feed All Danielle Colley Cook Once, Feed All   Danielle Colley Cook Once, Feed All Cook Once, Feed All COVER_lr Danielle Colley Cook Once, Feed All

Cook Once, Feed All is about making your life easier whilst preparing nutritious and quick food for your family. This book is a collection of family friendly recipes, all accompanied by Danielle’s often funny and charming story telling.
 Hailed by Mouths of Mums as the ‘must have recipe book for all families’

For your chance to win Cook Once, Feed All today pop over and like the Keeping Up With The Holsbys Facebook page, and leave me a message about your most loved family meal. Winners will be announced tonight and will receive the ebook before it is launched.

If you subscribe now to the Keeping Up With The Holsbys mailing list now you will automatically receive my new mini-eBook ‘A Bit On The Side’  – A collection of fabulous summer salads and side dishes.

To pre-order your hardcopy of Cook Once, Feed All head to the Holsby Shop right now and you will be the first to receive the hard copy book after it launches on the 28th.

You will also receive the Cook Once Feed All eBook (worth $15), plus the new eBook ‘A Bit on the Side’ (worth $5) as a bonus gift in your inbox today.

Three for the price of one, and you save $20.

Come by and join in the conversation on Facebook or connect on Twitter, and subscribe to the monthly newsletter to get some Sunshine in your inbox.